Welcome to the first official installment of a new series entitled “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”. In this series, I want to highlight the design work of others that I enjoy. I am a big advocate for giving flowers while people can still smell them. I believe loving design means loving designers. Seeing great work acts as not only inspiration but motivation. We should all share our appreciation for and to those who inspire us.
In this first official installment, I’d like to salute Torch Creative and their work on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) logo. My first time seeing the logo was when it was brought into the office by my friend and co-worker TJ, a graduate of UNO. It actually took closer inspection to realize that the O itself was designed to include the U and the N. This increased my fondness of the logo as I am a huge fan of clean and clever logos. TJ also showed off the UNO Maverick logo which I was also a fan of. The entire athletics brand of UNO gets two thumbs up from me.
When TJ took my friend William and myself up to Omaha on a road trip, he gave us a tour of the university. On this tour, we were able to see the beautiful on-campus applications of the logo. We attended a UNO hockey game, my first ever hockey game, which was played in Baxter Arena in Omaha. On the outside of the arena, you could see that mighty fine O shining brightly in the night. Inside, the store had the logo (and other brand elements) on all kinds of different apparel and other items. It’s one thing to see a logo on the internet. It’s a completely different and much more rewarding feeling to see how it is being applied on site in its natural habitat.
I actually didn’t find out that Torch Creative did this logo I was crushing on so hard until later. Torch Creative is a design studio based in Dallas, Texas that I have been following on Twitter for a while now. On June 19, they posted a tweet that stopped me in my tracks. So, I went to their website and discovered that I had somehow missed, in their portfolio, a project entitled “University of Nebraska Omaha Rebrand”.
The work of Torch Creative is a source of great inspiration. They done work for so many big time brands, events, and schools. A lot of their work lives in that beautiful cross section of design and sports. Even their sketches are absolutely phenomenal. Salute to Torch Creative!
Let people know you like their stuff. When you see design work (or any good work) you enjoy on social media, don’t just like but leave a positive comment. Let the people know that they are creating and sharing something that positively impacts you. I hope I am creating designs that are doing the same.
Different markets call for different types and styles of logo. The logo’s personality should reflect the brand’s personality. The application of the research and the conversations will result in a design that works for that particular brand and its goals. It would be a mistake for me to design as if I was a robot producing generic brand identities. Each of us humans have unique personalities. It’s the same for brands. We should create distinct designs.
There is a reason you see this when people post their business contact information.
Be selective about who you work with. Once you accept the opportunity to work with someone, that client and that project is your responsibility. In my field, I like to only work with people who understand the value and importance of design. I also love working with people whose projects will bring some positivity into the world, whether through a service or product. Take the time prior to accepting a job to evaluate how well you and the potential client fit with one another. Evaluate how well you can accomplish what is necessary for the project. Be thorough in determining what they need and establish yourself as a teammate and not a tool. Some people are simply looking for technicians while others want to invest in a specialist to join their team for a time.
Keep The Focus On Their Goals
Never take for granted their decision to reach out to you for help. Appreciate every opportunity you have to serve someone else. While appreciating, make sure you are digging. You build trust by digging deeper into their backstory and the backstory of the project. The more they can tell you are personally invested in their success, the more they trust in you as a teammate. You must be invested in their vision beyond the mere monetary transaction. As a graphic designer, I’m not chasing money. I’m chasing purpose. I feel these skills I’ve been blessed with have a purpose attached. My purpose is tied to helping others more efficiently fulfill their purpose through the visual medium. The overall goal and purpose of the project should inform every decision.
Explain The Process & Reasoning
Do your due diligence in “on-boarding” your client. Take the time to explain the process and make them feel welcomed. Just as you need to feel like a teammate so do they. Throughout the process, explain your design decisions with clarity. Also, be open to critique. Try what they may want to see before rejecting their input. Showing is always better than telling. Give options and explain why, in your professional opinion, you would go with one over another. Be the professional and take responsibility for your part in getting the project from idea to tangible reality.
At the end of the day, you need to deliver. A satisfied client will become an ambassador for you. They will go forth and tell the world of how great you are. Others will be listening and come to you with confidence and excitement. Word-of-mouth references are the best. Potential clients will come ready to trust your process after seeing how well it worked out for their friend or colleague. The equity you have built with your client will go a long way in bringing in new ones. Your positive reputation grows with each successful project – putting you in a better position to serve in the future.
The intersection of sports and design is a beautiful place. My favorite sport to watch is football yet this season was the first year I had ever participated in Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is where you are the general manager / owner of a virtual gridiron football franchise . You draft players and manage your lineup from week to week, trying to best other virtual teams in your league. But first and foremost, you have make a name for your team – literally.
Figuring out how to visually interpret strolling in a logo presented a challenge. Also, designing a mascot logo in general presents a challenge for me. I usually like to create more minimalistic, symbol type brands. I don’t consider myself a particularly talented illustrator but I do like to push myself when I can. I took a photo of myself mid-stroll (“throwing a K” as we call it) and put it in Adobe Illustrator. The pen tool and I went through the photo and created vectors of the most essential parts with some creative license. I chose to use various shades of blue to highlight certain features and shadows.
The first pass of the logo and the second pass of the logo differ mainly in the text used. I posted the initial version in the Makers of Sport Slack community for feedback. Who better to get feedback from on my fictional franchise’s branding than designers who work with actual school athletic departments and professional teams. I was given some tips, including giving my wordmark more weight. I revisited the text, choosing a new font and altered it to give it some personality.
Huge salute to Brandon Moore, whose Staubachs Coffee team social media graphics served as inspiration for me to create some for Stroll City.
Instagram continues to evolve and provide new tools. The latest shift came in the form of allowing multiple full photos to be used in a single post. Your followers can now simply swipe the initial photo to see the rest in that post’s collection. With any new social media tool, this creates new possibilities on the platform. Once I updated my Instagram app and started playing around with the new feature, I wrote down a few ways multiple picture posts could be used.
Before any contract is signed, any design program is opened, any dollar sign is seen, a conversation must take place between a designer/design firm and the potential client. You must have a love of these deep conversations because they are where relationships are established and much is learned.
Your brand is your gold, as I have mentioned before. You have to mine and refine that gold to establish yourself, your organization, your company, etc. Before you can truly build and tell the story of your brand, there are some questions that you must answer. Here’s a sample of three inspired by the SHYPSIclient questionnaire, used to educate the designer on the potential client and what they need.